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At the cow wash: Pakistanis scrub Eid animals at car cleaners

In the run-up to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, Karachi car-wash owner Sheikh Sagheer sees much of the traffic at his business switch from four wheels to four legs.

In this picture taken on July 27, 2020, Sheikh Sagheer showers foam on a cow before washing it at his car service station ahead of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha or the 'Festival of Sacrifice', in the Pakistan's port city of Karachi. In the run-up to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, Karachi car-wash owner Sheikh Sagheer sees much of the traffic at his business switch from four wheels to four legs. Locals bring him their cattle, sheep and goats for a thorough scrub down ahead of the animals' sacrifice during the three-day religious holiday, which begins on July 31 in Pakistan.
Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP
Locals bring him their cattle, sheep and goats for a thorough scrub down ahead of the animals' sacrifice during the three-day religious holiday, which begins Friday in Pakistan.

Sagheer, 42, said the cow wash started when he was spotted cleaning his sacrificial animal ahead of Eid after opening his business a few years ago.

"The people who saw me washing the animal came to me with their own... that's how this trend started," Sagheer told AFP.

Many of the animals come from a huge market on the outskirts of Karachi -- reputed to be the largest Eid cattle bazaar in Asia -- that is packed with goats, cows, bullocks, sheep and camels.

The creatures are often dirty, dusty and speckled with dung after being transported then packed together at the market.

Sagheer charges just 100 rupees (about 60 cents) for a wash -- which includes a soak with a pressure hose, a lather with suds, a scrub and a rinse.

"The charge is 100 rupees, which is nothing," said Mohammad Uzair, who brought in a large grey cow for a wash.

Across Pakistan, between eight and 10 million animals are sacrificed over Eid al-Adha, according to the Pakistan Tanners Association.

Sagheer says cleanliness is especially important because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I make it a point to sanitise the animal with disinfectants," he said.

Topics: Islam , Eid al-Adha , Religion
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